National ‘cross champs in jeopardy


This weekend’s National cyclo-cross Championships in Birmingham hang in the balance due to the weather conditions affecting the entire country.

The safety of visitors and access for event infrastructure for the two-days of racing, starting on Saturday [January 9], is a concern for Birmingham City Council and British Cycling, although a statement on BC’s website states “…in the extremely unlikely event that the venue is not safely accessible to vehicles it may be necessary to postpone the event.”

The biggest fields of recent years, with more than 500 entries, face disappointment should the Sutton Park area be declared unusable.
BC’s Events Development Officer, Brian Furness, said: “There is no problem in getting a course sorted out: it is a matter of access to it. Our guys are in communication on a daily basis with Birmingham City Council. It is a matter of whether their safety advisory group thinks we can safely get that many vehicles in and out [of Sutton Park].”

However, cyclo-cross commission member Peter Hargroves stated: “There are only four people who can make that decision and I’m one of them. It’s not cancelled.”

Foot and mouth was the last culprit to cause the ‘cross championships to be cancelled back in the ’60’s, but “it was run the following week in a different part of the country,” says Furness.

A new date would have to be found should the worst case scenario force BC’s hand, most likely sometime after the upcoming World Championships in Tabor, starting January 30.

Birmingham City Council’s safety advisory group will monitor conditions on Thursday evening and Friday morning before British Cycling officials announce whether the championships can proceed. Details will be published on BC’s website by 11am on Friday.   

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Senior men podium (l-r): Roger Hammond (third), Jody Crawforth (winner), Paul Oldham (second)

2009 men’s podium: Hammond, Crawforth, Oldham

These are testing times for any rider trying to get in shape for the rapidly approaching new season. Some have switched to mountain bikes in a bid to get out of the house, while others plug away on the dreaded indoor trainer waiting for conditions to improve. The less motivated among us are poring over websites promising miles of empty roads on sun-drenched islands having given up the notion of being remotely fit by March. Training camps have never sounded so appealing.

Good to hear new Raleigh recruit Liam Holohan takes his training seriously, with a built-in cafe stop between sessions on the turbo. “Why change the habit of a lifetime just because I’m on the turbo?” he says. We couldn’t agree more.

Meanwhile, Planet X signing Jon Mozley allegedly makes a flask before settling down for his lengthy sessions on the hamster wheel. Just because you are not stepping outside the front door, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Top marks, Jon.

Tom Murray in Huddersfield has seen some serious snow in his home town. The youngster will be riding for Sigma Sport this season, but only if his new-found career on the luge fails to take off. Mum’s best chip tray has been waxed and prepared for action. “I’ve seen it on Eurosport: how hard can it be?” says Tom. Huddersfield A & E has been alerted.

Legendary hard trainer and all-round tough nut Russell Downing opted to stay down in the South following Team Sky’s dazzling team presentation in London on Monday. The Tour of Ireland winner from Rotherham managed four hours on the icy roads of Surrey yesterday, but today’s heavy snowfall made a repeat ride impossible and he didn’t fancy training with a shovel and flask of coffee in the saddlebag. Downing heads to Australia tomorrow [Thursday] for his first race in Sky colours, the Tour Down Under.

Turbo training

Instrument of torture: headless man tries to escape whiteout

The Evans Cycles Ride It! event at Chieveley, Berkshire, scheduled for this weekend [January 9-10] has been cancelled due to – yes, you guessed it – the bad weather.

Pre-entered riders will receive a full refund and further information can be found at the Ride It! blog (

The next event in the series, featuring both on and off-road routes, will be in Rochdale on January 30-31.

Phill Sykes (Sigma Sport) got his new year off to a flying start with back-to-back wins in the E123 race at the Imperial Winter Series at Hillingdon, West London.

Sykes braved the cold weather and the inevitable New Year’s Day hangover to take wins on January 1 and 2.

In what was Sykes’ third straight win on January 2, the Sigma Sport rider escaped early in the race to counter the threat posed by Trek Livestrong signing Alex Dowsett, fresh (or not as the case may be) from a training camp with his new team-mates.

Sykes dropped his two breakaway companions, including the prodigiously talented Felix English, to take a comfortable victory whilst in the bunch Sykes’ team-mate Steve Golla policed the efforts from Dowsett et al to bring it back together.

Sykes now leads the series with six rounds remaining.

Imperial Winter Series E123 leaderboard

1. Phill Sykes (Sigma Sport) 800
2. Felix English (Pearson Cycles) 660
3. Henry Furniss (WyndyMilla) 600
4. Steve Golla (Sigma Sport) 540
5. Jo Skelton (Brixton Cycles) 530

The CTC is looking to the future and has grand ambitions for the organisation after celebrating what was the most successful year in its 131-year history, including transforming it into a membership charity.

After decades of government campaigning to ensure that cycle safety targets are based on risk as opposed to number of cyclists injured, the organisation finally achieved its objective last year with the government’s draft Road Safety Strategy.

The plan to reduce by half the risk of cycling over the next ten years was also demanded in its New Vision for Cycling and outlined in its Safety in Numbers strategy.

Active campaigning to encourage cycling remains key, an integral part of which are the Workplace Challenges to promote greater activity in the workplace.

“CTC remains the largest cycling organisation in the UK,” explained CTC Chief Executive, Kevin Mayne.

“We’ve just wrapped up our financial year and, despite the credit crunch, we are looking stronger than ever. More people than ever have decided to join CTC and support the work we do. The more members we have, the more we can do to improve cycling across the UK,” he added.
The CTC Council, elected by the organisation’s substantial body of 63,000 members, has also elected to suggest the proposal of transforming the entire organisation into a membership charity. Currently, the organisation is split into the CTC Charitable Trust and the Cyclists’ Touring Club.

“We are calling on our members to give a resounding vote in favour at our AGM, so we can go forward as a cyclists’ charity and achieve even more,” commented Council Chair, David Robinson.

“We’ll also qualify for Gift Aid so members will be able to donate even more money to our campaigning and development work, without having to pay any extra.”